Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It does matter if it's black or white

Someone asked me if I would write a blog about the “all-or-nothing” mentality. It’s something with which I’m all too familiar. It’s what got me in trouble in the first place, really. And it’s something that still gets to me sometimes.

There is this idea that there are good foods and bad foods. Skinny people and fat people. Being healthy or bingeing. There’s no gray with any of these. Just black and white.

Here’s how my extreme all-or-nothingness would work. I’d order a pizza. I’d eat one slice, then two. Then three. Maybe I was full. But in my head I’d say “Oh, tomorrow I’ll be good.” So I’d finish off the pizza so I wasn’t tempted the next day. Of course, the next day I’d start over with the entire bag of chips or the whole box of cookies.

My years of dieting didn’t help. I’d have a “good” day. Then I’d eat something “bad.” After that I figured I’d already messed up everything, so why not just go completely off the wagon? It was a downward spiral that continued for nearly a decade.

I once had a nutritionist give me the idea to talk about “freeing and nonfreeing” foods. We came up with those terms together. Chips? Cheese and crackers? Nonfreeing. Meal planning, whole grains, lean protein? All freeing.

But in some ways, that was still me thinking in black and white terms.

I’ve learned a lot throughout this journey. And one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to take everything in moderation. I’ve learned not to look at my entire weight loss goal, but take it in tiny bits. I’ve learned not to beat myself up if I’ve overindulged a little. And I’ve learned that sometimes, you just need to treat yourself.

It’s one of the reasons I like Weight Watchers. You can fit all foods into your life. Just maybe not at once. If it’s my birthday, you’d better believe I’m having cake. Sometimes, when I go to the movies, I just want popcorn. Other days, I really need to satisfy a fast food craving.

Life is too short to live in denial. People often comment on my willpower. Trust me, I have no willpower. I have just learned not to forbid myself from anything. It’s what will always get me in trouble. I’ll keep thinking about that forbidden food until I eventually cave and eat way too much.

Now, there are still ways I restrict myself. I don’t keep certain foods in my house because I simply can’t control myself around them. There are no loaves of bread, crackers or chips in my apartment. But that’s not to say I never have those things. I’ve found the happy medium. I don’t buy them, but sometimes I’ll indulge in them—just a little.

Treat yourself. Allow yourself to give in to your cravings, even those you once considered “bad.” I really believe it’s the only way to be successful in losing weight.

Because, truly, how boring can black and white get? We all need a little color in our lives.


Anonymous said...

Oooh, I love this one. I have to learn this very thing. It helps to have you remind me of it even if I do hear the same thing at the Weight Watchers meetings. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have struggled with binge eating for about 15 years now. and what I have found for me is I have an allergy to processed foods and sweets. i cant even have one. it does something to my body making me crave more and then making me feel very tired and lethargic. Im like an alcoholic in many ways. I cant have just one. I never will be able to and avoiding those foods altogether is all that has worked for me. I will never know the happy medium. but I think your success is amazing and it works for you. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Anonymous said...

Ice cream sandwiches for me. Kryptonite. Not within a four mile radius.

Thank you for this post, E.

Charlotte Marie said...

Love this post, Erika - great reminders! It was great to see you at the PRSA awards last week with Kevin!

Erika said...

Anonymous, I like your idea about thinking about processed foods as an allergy. In a way, it's true, isn't it?

Hi Charlotte Marie! So nice to see your name here. :)